Canal FAQ

Canal Holiday Advice

Accessible canal holidays for those with disabilities

Canal Holidays can be enjoyed by everyone including people with restricted abilities.

Ten things to look for on an accessible canal boat holiday

  1. 1. Can you get on and off the boat?
    Getting on to the boat from the towpath might require a ramp or a lift.
     
  2. 2. Can you get down into the cabin area?
    The cabin will be lower than the deck; steps, ramp or lift might be needed.
     
  3. 3. Are the internal corridors/doors wide enough for you?
    Dimensions may be too narrow or irregular for wheelchairs/walking aids.
     
  4. 4. Are there suitable washing and toilet facilities?
    Facilities may be small, wrongly located or lack mobility aids.
     
  5. 5. Are sleeping arrangements suitable? (if required)
    Canal boats often have compact cabins and convertible beds or bunks.
      
  6. 6. Will you be able to look outside when sitting down?
    Some canal boat widows may be too high to see out of when seated.
     
  7. 7. Can you get up to the front deck, can it be covered?
    The foredeck is a great viewing place, some have removable weather covers.
     
  8. 8. Is the boat adapted so you can try steering?
    Some boats have joy stick steering adaptions and even cctv displays. 
     
  9. 9. Are heating and power supplies adequate?
    Boats may not have mains power, rarely suitable for life support equipment.
     
  10. 10. Is there suitable room for family, friends, carers?
    Your fellow passengers should be comfortable and enjoy themselves too!

Great holidays for everyone with just a little care!

Canal holidays, for a week, short break or just a day out, are very popular holidays for just about everyone. You get out into the fresh air, be as relaxed or active as you want and can share your enjoyment with friends and family. However canal holidays do have to be treated carefully. You are in a different environment, close to water and the natural world, which can be wet, bumpy and prickly! And the canal boats too must be treated with respect, they’re heavy and slow to stop, and have restricted interior space. Everyone needs to take care to stay comfortable and safe. (See our Safe Boating section.)

What about canal holidays for someone with limited abilities?

When you also have accessibility issues or other restricted abilities all the benefits of canal holidays are the same, there are just a few additional features and facilities you need to check for, as summarised in our list above. Fortunately there are a number of companies and charities who offer specially built or adapted canal boats, designed for people with a range of abilities.

For instance The Lyneal Trust, based near Ellesmere on the beautiful Llangollen Canal, offer three specially designed accessible canal boats for day trips or weekly holidays. Many disabled and vulnerable people of all ages and types of disabilities have been able to enjoy canal holidays with their friends and families. From their own Lyneal Wharf base you can head west towards Llangollen across the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and through the 1,400 feet long Chirk Tunnel, or cruise east to join the canal system through Cheshire and beyond.

The Lyneal Trust specially designed Accessible Canal Hire Boats

All Lyneal Trust boats allow safe and easy access via securely fastened ramps and hydraulic lifts (above right) enabling wheelchair users to access all parts of the boat. Lyneal Wharf believe two major factors always concern people with disabilities; accessibility and toilet facilities. The Lyneal Trust boats have not been simply adapted but were specially built to their design in order to fulfil these and other important requirements. Their latest boat for instance, The Shropshire Maid (top), even has a full width wet room (right) with disabled toilets and wash hand basins correctly positioned for wheelchair users.

One family who hired Shropshire Maid for a week’s holiday recently were keen to report, “As a family with a teenage daughter in a wheelchair, we hired the Shropshire Maid and said wow! what an amazing boat.  The wet room is such an asset which meant that toileting and showering with dignity and safety was possible, thank you so much.”

More Information

The Bruce Trust on the Kennet and Avon Canal and Waterways Experiences on the Grand Union Canal also have accessible boats. The Huelwen Trust on the Montgomery canal and Canal Ability on the River Stort offer accessible day boat trips. 

You can see more details, photos and plans of the Lyneal Trust's residential boats and day boat on their web site www.lyneal-trust.org.uk.

Our thanks to The Lyneal Trust for use of their images and help providing this information.

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